HOUSTON, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Retail prices for regular gasoline in the United States are expected to average 3.63 dollars per gallon (about 96 cents per liter) during this summer driving season, slightly below average prices over the last two summers, according to a government report released Thursday.
This forecast reflects a small decline in crude oil prices and gasoline consumption, as well as higher gasoline inventory levels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook.
Crude oil prices, which account for two-thirds of the prices of gasoline at the pump, are expected to be lower. That would make gasoline less expensive during the driving season from April through September, the agency said.
The average price of Brent crude oil, a benchmark price closely related to U.S. wholesale gasoline prices, is expected to average 107.50 dollars per barrel this summer, down about 1.50 dollars from last summer.
U.S. gasoline inventories started the 2013 summer driving season at 220 million barrels, 1 million barrels more than a year ago, but about the same as the five-year average, according to the EIA.
The steady drawdown of gasoline inventories seen throughout last summer is not expected to be repeated this summer, the EIA said. U.S. gasoline inventories are forecast to stabilize by the middle of summer, and end the driving season at almost 210 million barrels, about 8.8 million barrels higher than at the end of last summer and 1.7 million barrels above the five-year average.